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Former Trooper Gets 90-Day Sentence For Shooting Hamley
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
June 28, 2007

BENTONVILLE, ARKANSAS--The former Arkansas State Police trooper that admitted shooting to death Joseph "Erin" Hamley on March 7, 2006, was sentenced Thursday to 90 days in jail and 30 days community service for misdemeanor negligent homicide.

Retired trooper Larry Norman will also pay a fine of $1,000.

During the sentencing hearing, Norman explained to the court why he pleaded guilty to killing the 21-year-old innocent man, who had cerebral palsy, an intellectual disability, and a psychological disability.

"I made a mistake, and I try to take responsibility for my mistakes and teach my children the same," Norman said, adding that he wanted to ease the pain of Hamley's family.

"Erin Hamley didn't deserve to die. There's nothing I can do to bring him back. I deeply regret it."

The victim's family members said after the hearing that they were satisfied with the sentence.

"We feel that justice was served and that the Constitution was upheld," Erin's mother, Mary said. "I feel that justice was done for Erin."

In May of 2006, Norman pleaded not guilty after a Benton County special grand jury indicted him upon determining that he acted improperly when he shot Hamley.

Norman was several miles away that morning when he heard a radio dispatch from fellow State Trooper Wilson Short, who was trying to determine the identity of a man that matched the description of a Michigan prison escapee that was considered armed and dangerous. Officer Short instructed Norman to block the highway's westbound lanes to secure the scene and to protect motorists. Video recordings from inside Norman's cruiser show he sped to the site, sometimes going over 100 mph, with his AM/FM radio blasting so loud he could not hear his police radio.

By the time Norman arrived at the scene, Trooper Short and four Washington County Sheriff's deputies had surrounded Hamley. They had their guns drawn and were taking defensive positions behind their cars. One officer mentioned that if he could get close enough to Hamley, he would use his Taser stun gun.

Instead of blocking traffic as he was instructed to do, Norman did a U-turn and pulled up about 25 yards from the young man, pulled out his shotgun, and took a defensive position behind his car.

According to the grand jury, Hamley was following officers' instructions to get down on the ground, but lay down on his back instead of his stomach. When the officers told him to put his hands up where they could see them, Hamley raised his hands briefly three times.

When Norman directed him to turn over, Hamley reached across his body with one hand toward his pocket, possibly in an effort to comply with the trooper's instructions to roll over, the grand jury concluded. That's when Norman shot one time, the slug hitting the pavement, then striking Hamley's arm and going into his body.

When officers approached Hamley, he moaned, saying, "I'm sorry". He then asked, "Why did you shoot me?"

He died a short time later.

The grand jury made special note of the fact that Trooper Norman was on the scene for less than one minute when he shot Hamley, and that he "made no attempt to communicate with State Trooper Wilson Short or the Washington County Sheriff's deputies."

After his death, members of Hamley's family told reporters that he had trouble talking because of his disabilities, and often put his hands in his pockets when he was nervous.

The grand jury viewed several toy balls that were taken from Hamley's pockets after he was fatally shot.

Nearly one year after the shooting, the Arkansas State Police agreed to pay $1 million to settle a lawsuit filed by Hamley's family. The department admitted no wrongdoing.

"Norman Given 90 Days' Jail Time" (The Morning News)
"Tapes Reveal Tragedy's Timeline" (The Morning News)
"Erin Hamley: Innocent Man Shot By State Trooper" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)

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